The first moving walkway debuted at the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, in Chicago, Illinois, in the United States. It had two different divisions: one where passengers were seated, and one where riders could stand or walk. It ran in a loop down the length of a lakefront pier to a casino. Six years later a moving walkway was also presented to the public at the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1900. The walkway consisted of three elevated platforms, the first was stationary, the second moved at a moderate speed, and the third at about six miles per hour. These demonstrations likely served as inspiration for some of H. G. Wells' settings mentioned in the "Science Fiction" section below.
The Beeler Organization, a New York City consulting firm, proposed a Continuous Transit System with Sub-Surface Moving Platforms for Atlanta in 1924, with a design roughly similar to the Paris Exposition system. The proposed drive system used a linear induction motor. The system was not constructed.
The first commercial moving walkway in the United States was installed in 1954 in Jersey City, NJ, inside the Hudson & Manhattan Railroad Erie station at the Pavonia Terminal. Named the "Speedwalk" and built by Goodyear, it was 277 ft (84.5 m) long and moved up a 10 percent grade at a speed of 1.5 mph (2.4 km/h). The walkway was removed a few years later when traffic patterns at the station changed.
Moving walkways generally move at a slower speed than a natural walking pace, and even when people continue walking after they step on a moving walkway they tend to slow their pace to compensate, thus moving walkways only minimally improve travel times and overall transport capacity.
Moving walkways are built in one of two basic styles:
Both types of moving walkway have a grooved surface to mesh with combplates at the ends. Also, nearly all moving walkways are built with moving handrails similar to those on escalators.